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© 2011 Medical Travel Today
Medical Travel Today is a publication of CPR Strategic Marketing Communications, a public relations firm based near New York City that specializes in healthcare and life sciences, with an international clientele. CPR, its Partners, and clients are at the nexus of where medical travel is today, and where it will be tomorrow.

Publisher, Laura Carabello

Table of Contents

From the Editor

From the Editor: This week in Medical Travel Today, Amanda Haar

News in Review

Germany to spearhead medical tourism in the GCC

Arroyo seeks medical treatment abroad


Zachary Rozga, Part Two

Tracy Simons, President, Custom Assurance Placements, Ltd.
Industry News

American Athletes Traveling Abroad for Care

Industry News

Global Health Voyager, Inc. Completes PlanetHospital Acquisition Transitioning GLHV to an international medical tourism company

Industry News

Paper Examines "Medical Tourism, Access to Health Care, and Global Justice" 

Industry News

U.S. Doctor Frustrated with Spiraling Costs of Surgery Takes Patients to Mexico for Medical Care

Industry News

World's Largest Medical Tourism Network Now Offers up to 90% Savings on Prescriptions in the US

Industry News

Mercury Healthcare International, Inc. Adopts Cloud-based Electronic Health Record for Care Continuity

Industry News

IMTJ Coverage of the MTA Activities

Industry News

Patients Beyond Borders® Dubai Healthcare City Edition Author to Be Featured Panelist at Arab Health 2012

Industry News

World's Largest Medical Tourism Network Names Michael N. Tarabay as V.P. of Business Development

Industry News

Say quoi?: France Tops Med Travel Destinations, Survey Says

Industry News

Medical Tourism Documentary Follows PlanetHospital Patient Through International Surgery Process – Airing Nationally on Current TV

Upcoming Events

2012 Global Healthcare and Medical Tourism Conference: ‘Global Connected Care & 3rd MediTour Expo’ Slated for May 6-8, 2012

EMTC 2012 Slated for April 25-27, 2012

Hotels Bridging Healthcare Conference Announced

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Global Health Voyager

Volume 5, Issue 23

by Amanda Haar, Editor


Thanks to the actions and choices of a number of political leaders and professional athletes, medical travel is garnering a good bit of media attention these days.

And while the coverage is no doubt serving to educate many who weren't familiar with the notion of going abroad for care, it's really the outcomes that will ultimately shape their opinions on the industry. I, for one, am extremely hopeful that each and every procedure provides the desired outcome and the patients are very vocal about the success.

But while we wait for that, please enjoy Part Two of our conversation with Zachary Rozga of the Inter-American Development Bank in which he shares how the organization is weighing its approach to the industry.

Another story worth your attention is one that has been unfolding across the sea. Two stories recently featured in the The International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) have been generating a lot of conversation and concern within the industry. We're grateful to Keith Pollard, Managing Director of Intuition Communications and publisher of the IMTJ, for allowing us to provide a link to the articles here

As always, we welcome your comments, story ideas, and press releases.


Amanda Haar, Editor


Introducing Medical Travel Today: Opinions and Perspectives on an Industry in the Making

Medical Travel Today — the authoritative newsletter for the worldwide medical travel industry — is pleased to announce publication of a new book, "Medical Travel Today: Opinions and Perspectives on an Industry in the Making." Featuring 40 of the newsletter's most compelling interviews from the first five years of publication, the volume chronicles the explosive growth of international medical tourism as witnessed and experienced by some of the key stakeholders and players. A must-read for anyone interested or involved in the industry.

Medical Tourism and Training Release Free e-book for Medical Travel Professionals


Expectations Beyond Borders is designed for healthcare providers, medical facilitators, tourism and travel professionals, professional associations government agencies, or anyone else involved with providing services and products in the medical tourism sector.

This free e-book presents clear and concise marketing theory illustrated by practical examples and innovative solutions to deliver the tools you need to build an exceptional medical tourism business.

Topics include:

-       Defining and understanding customer service
-       Getting, losing, and keeping customers
-       Lessons learned from secret shopping
-       Successful email campaigns
-       Tips for working across time zones
-       Helping customers with visa issues
-       And more 

Download your copy today!

Log onto Facebook and join the Medical Travel Today Group. Look for recent news, trends, and post discussions in the board. If you would like to see something in Medical Travel Today let us know in the discussion board. If you have a question, post it there!

You can also follow Medical Travel Today on Twitter. For more information log ontowww.medicaltraveltoday.com

Readers Write


I am reading your book Medical Travel Today: Opinions and Perspectives on an Industry in the Making and am finding it immensely informative. It is superb. I am a practicing physician assistant in Addiction and Internal Medicine and am planning on being involved in medical travel facilitation. I am eventually relocating to Brazil.

Your newsletter and again your book have been very enriching for me.

I am attending the MTA congress in Chicago this month and plan on attending the Medtour expo in Las Vegas (my home) in May of 2012. My first experience was attending their conference here in May of this year and it was a wonderful conference.

I hope I can someday get my copy of your book signed by you.

Thanks again for the work you do in this field.


John Lanzillotta PA-C
Addiction and Internal Medicine
Las Vegas, Nevada


Zachary Rozga, Part Two

Part One of our interview with Zachary Rozga was featured in Issue 22 of Medical Travel Today and can be accessed via this link.  

Medical Travel Today (MTT):  What are some of the other key issues that you are reviewing?

ZR:  Right now, we doing some general investigation:  What is going on out there in Medical/Health tourism?  What can we ascertain from a preliminary investigation talking with the industry?  Finally, where can the IDB eventually partner with someone to actually leverage the experience and strength in a project?

The IDB is a fairly important political entity within the Latin American Caribbean Region, and we are well positioned to help. With our previous experience within the sustainable tourism industry, the IDB was one of the first entities to work on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, GSTC, which has now been taken over by the UN Foundation.

Since then, it’s been a moving entity, and it has really shaped what we know of as the sustainable tourism industry.

Again, I think this is kind of what we’re looking at with the medical tourism industry today.  It is just this wide-open expanse, and everybody involved has their own belief of what it is and what it can become. 

So, if you’re on the supply side or if you’re on the demand side, you feel like you have the only right answer and everybody else is wrong. 

Those sentiments are creating benchmarks, and we are saying, “I think this is someplace where we can play a role in this evolving industry.” We can leverage past experience working with the GSTC in the early days to shape something sustainable and inclusive for medical travel.

But I also want to point out that we want to make sure we partner with the right people who are active this industry.  We are really one small cog in the wheel.

MTT:  The lure of the Caribbean Islands, Central and South America to Americans is so attractive for medical travelers — places that are familiar, destinations they know and have seen advertised, and countries where their friends and relatives have traveled. For the American medical traveler, sustainable tourism and medical tourism go hand-in-hand.

ZR:  I agree, however, I think we have to break through some of the rhetoric from the supply side, whether or not the country is really trying to use medical travel as a national strategy. 

In effect, what we have seen on the ground in some cases is what they are really doing is taking away good doctors from the local people.  It’s essentially pulling away resources from rural areas and the best doctors are now basically servicing international clients. 

That’s one negative example that we’ve seen.  Another one, on the very extreme side, is this whole issue about “farming of retinas” in Colombia.

These are some of the negative things we want to address through some sort of project.  Whether that’s creating an accreditation body or some type of criteria for responsible medical travel remains to be seen.  That’s an idea for a project.

MTT:  From the supply side and from all of these destinations, this is something that is needed — because until it happens, this whole initiative will not really materialize or reach its optimal growth.  Is there a way to balance what you’re talking about with the positive aspects of medical tourism? 

ZR:  Yes, I think so. If you are looking at the situation from a 50,000-foot perspective, there are so many stakeholders involved both on the supply and demand side. 

You have non-tourism people, health people and then you have tourism people trying to capture patients as clients — and then you have the public sector. And then you have consumers who often don’t even consider themselves tourists -- they consider themselves patients. 

Here is another sort of left-field example in this area of what is a medical tourist:  Because I live in Seattle, I know half a dozen relatives who drive up to Canada every three months or so to go buy meds. 

Now, are they medical tourists?  I would have to say yes. 

I mean they are going up there specifically to buy drugs, but they are also driving three hours.  Often, they’ll stay somewhere along the way even if it is just to eat a meal -- so that’s another part that needs to be understood.

Here’s another personal example that I think illustrates your question about the market potential:  I lived in South Africa for over three years, and the amount of Brits that came down there for something as routine as dental care was incredible.  They would come down there for two weeks, get their teeth fixed, relax on the beach and still pay less than they would in the UK for dental services. 

MTT: And the Americans are going to Costa Rica for the same thing. 

ZR:  I know.  So, we know there is something big going on here.

From a purely IDB project perspective another important thing for us to find in this pre-project stage is to identify the organization that can take on and manage a project of this magnitude. As I mentioned earlier the MIF is a technical assistance partner and also a source of counterpart funds. This is the reason we have begun talking to GKEN.org and its leaders, but we also believe that in order for this thing to truly gain traction, it’s going to need some other partners — and we are going to need some money (matching funds).

At this stage, as I indicated, we are very much in a scouting and investigative stage.  I wasn’t even sure that I would take this interview with you!  But I said okay.  I was thinking less of it from an interview perspective, but more from an investigative side.

Someone I think we really would like to talk to is the Gates Foundation.  That is really their primary motive — to improve healthcare on a global level.  That is also why I think we have to look at this both from people travelling to receive care and from those traveling to provide care.  Our project will have to not focus strictly on patient travel, which I make a rough back-of-envelope estimate at 50 percent of medical travel market, but I might be wrong. 

At this stage, this is where we are really trying to understand the landscape.  Again, one of the characteristics of an IDB-funded project is that we need to have an executing agency. 

An executing agency has to fit into a certain set of parameters.  They have to have the operational capacity to be able to deliver an IDB project.  Part of the reason I was discussing this with GKEN was to see if it could be an executing agency. 

We are also looking to just continue talking to other people, as I don’t foresee us starting a project this year.  I see the rest of the year as continuing discussions with people like you who are passionate about this new industry and want to see something change -- and who also can see themselves benefiting from this by being a leading-edge person and really pulling together a great team. 

MTT:  What will be your personal involvement?

ZR:  From my own personal perspective, and why I am so interested in this, is because I think I’m one of the few people investigating this burgeoning industry that actually has a background and training in tourism. 

So far, every other person I’ve come across during our preliminary investigation who is involved in medical travel has a background in health.  That’s why I guess I am really very intrigued by this project.  I’d like to think I have something to lend to this that’s a little bit of a different perspective, and I fully intend to stay attached wherever I can to the unfolding process.

And speaking from the institutional perspective of the IDB, they want to know how we can use medical tourism as a catalytic process to improve SME’s.  In this case, we’re talking about clinics, but also I think it is important to improve access to health services for the local population through medical travel.

MTT:  I think you can.

ZR:  That is why they would get involved in this project.

The thing that is very interesting for me is that, although the IDB does all of this development work in sustainable tourism, the MIF does not yet have a health agenda.  My guess is that the reason they have not addressed the issues of health is because they have been focused on microfinance, agricultural development and those types of things.

But I think the unique opportunity we have right now on the tourism side is this:  If we can introduce health to its full extent, it has the potential to get on to a broader radar within the MIF. 

MTT:  Think of it this way:  When an American patient chooses to go to Mexico for bariatric surgery, and spends $11,000 or more on the medical care – plus the tourism and recovery services — wouldn’t that expenditure go a long way in supporting the primary care of the local population?

ZR:  Right — and even better if the facility is in an underserviced area both from a healthcare and tourism perspective.  I think that’s where we are looking at taking a project.

This is on the right side of the ledger, but I have seen some instances where the local population is specifically cut off from high quality medical care geared for the medical tourist. One example is some high-class clinics in Cape Town, South Africa. 

I think the same thing happens in Brazil.

MTT:  What is your timeframe for initiating this project?

ZR:  I need to talk to my partners at the IDB to provide an exact answer.

After speaking with you, and I have to say I’ve been very pleased that we had this conversation, I’d like to think that we could spend a little more time formally putting the pieces together and hopefully bump this agenda up the priority queue.

In any event, I hope that we can start a project in early to mid-2012.

About Zachary Rozga

Zachary Rozga is an international sustainable development expert, with a focus on sustainable tourism and small business development, working for the Inter-American Development Bank Multi-lateral Investment Fund. Zachary has been working in tourism for over 10 years and in sustainable development for over five years. Zachary received his Bachelor’s in Business from the University of Colorado at Boulder, majoring in Finance and International Business in 2001, and he received his Master’s  in Sustainable Development and Tourism from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in 2005.



About the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF)

Funded by 39 donors, the Multilateral Investment Fund/MIF supports private sector-led development benefitting the poor — their businesses, their farms, and their households. The aim is to give low-income populations the tools to boost their incomes, as well as to provide  access to: markets and the skills to compete in those markets;  finance; and basic services, including green technology.

A core MIF mission is to act as a development laboratory - experimenting, pioneering, and taking risks in order to build and support successful micro and SME business models. To make effective use of MIF projects, the MIF is committed to:

  1. rigorous results measurement and impact evaluation, and
  2. active knowledge-sharing so that the most promising solutions are widely known and can be taken to scale.

The MIF finances about 100 projects per year, with a total finance volume of about US$100 million. MIF project benefits reached over 600,000 individuals and businesses in 2010.

The MIF works through technical assistance grants, lending and equity investments, as well as through combinations of these tools when both capacity-building and risk-sharing finance are needed for success. It is the largest international technical assistance provider to the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean, and always works with local, mostly private partners to help fund and execute projects - civil society organizations, industry associations, foundations, universities, cooperatives, companies and financial institutions. Every dollar approved by the MIF leveraged more than US$2 from partners in 2010.


Tracy Hahn Simons, President, Custom Assurance Placements, Ltd.

Part One of our interview with Tracy Hahn Simons was featured in Issue 22 and can be viewed here.

Medical Travel Today (MTT): How are you currently marketing Global Protective Solutionssm?

Tracy Simons (TS): It's actually a 1-2 approach. Most facilitators require patients to buy this insurance so they have two layers of coverage if something goes wrong.

In addition, facilitators are now putting the policy in place on a group basis for their clients. There are, however, some parameters. For example, we don't insure stem cell treatments and care in certain hospitals or facilities. Mostly those that aren't JCI accredited or don't have the country or region equivalent.

But, if you're working with reputable facilities, and you're handling 150 patients per month, you get a very nice discount on the cost of the policy. Typically most facilitators will pass that savings along to the consumer. Without a doubt, the coverage and reduced cost makes them a better option in the consumer's eye.

MTT: How many facilitators do you currently work with?

TS:  We currently work with 150 facilitators worldwide. Four of those clients are very large, and they provide group coverage for everybody they send abroad. The others don't necessarily have a large enough base yet to offer group coverage, but that's where the individual policy fits.

MTT: What is your most successful channel for promoting your policies?

TS: We found that partnerships with key players have brought the most success. We do a lot of speaking engagements and take advantage of educational opportunities at conventions and through presentations. And people are interested. We've been invited to present at conferences in Barcelona, Sao Paolo, D.C., Vegas, London, and so on, usually at medical tourism conferences or self-funded benefit conventions.

In addition, we have found that hospitals and facilitators like to let people know about us by providing a link to us on their website.

Key partners – listed on partner websites. Facilitators and hospitals.

MTT: How has receptivity by employers changed in the past few years?

TS: Initially employers thought the notion of going abroad for care was so far-fetched that they just threw up objections and questions so they didn't have to really address it. But now, as consumers become more educated, there's a definite shift.

Even so, we haven't had an employer purchase a policy yet. We handle U.S. employers, and we have to be licensed in the state they're domiciled in.  

MTT: What’s the nature of the care needed by most customers and from where are they coming?

TS: The largest percent of procedures we're seeing are in the area of CCSVI and cosmetic surgery.

Most of our policy-holders are from Australia and Canada, and I'd say most often they're headed to either Thailand or India for care. That's been a pretty steady trend for some time.

MTT: Are you looking to develop additional medical travel products?

TS: Every year we add an enhancement or feature to our accident policy. When someone brings up a need or concern related to it, we address it.  In that sense, it's really an ever-changing policy.

Beyond that, we're just looking for continued growth.  Given what's happening with care in the U.S. at this point, I'm pretty optimistic we'll see it.

About Tracy Hahn Simons

Tracy H. Simons is president and principal of Custom Assurance Placements, Ltd. (CAP), a specialty program insurance broker. Tracy has a B.A. from the University of South Carolina’s school of business and international studies.

Tracy is an owner and founder of two insurance operations. Tracy started an independent insurance agency, Caswell-Hahn Insurance Group in Hilton Head Island, S.C., in 1995 and sold the agency in 2000 to move to Columbia, S.C. There she founded, with partner Harold H Adams, Jr., Custom Assurance Placements, Ltd. (CAP), an insurance brokerage.

CAP was formed in 2000, and brought international insurance expertise from partner Hal Adams, who had been insuring international organizations since 1980. CAP is tribunalized at Lloyds, London and is an MGU, MGA and broker for various insurance programs, both domestic and international.

CAP has been working with the international medical travel industry to develop leading medical travel programs. CAP has worked with various innovators in the medical travel/tourism industry to meet insurance needs and has developed comprehensive solutions for facilitators, healthcare providers, individuals and employers.

Industry News

American Athletes Traveling Abroad for Care

Editor's Note: A recent story about Peyton Manning seeking stem cell therapy for a recurring neck injury inspired a number of media outlets to dig a little deeper into the pro-athlete quest for care. What follows are just two of the stories highlighting the distances athletes are going to find restoration and healing.

Kobe Bryant Knee Treatment Highly Experimental, According To Report

Sbnation.com—Earlier this offseason, Kobe Bryant underwent a mysterious treatment for his aching knee in Germany. At the time, the procedure was compared to platelet rich therapy, a treatment in which platelets are injected into the tissue of the troublesome spot in order to spur restoration and healing. But a report from ESPN, the Magazine's Shaun Assael reveals that the procedure Bryant underwent is even less well-known than that.

To continue reading click here.

Athletes go to great lengths for recovery

msn.foxsports.com—Santana Moss sought treatment outside the country before it was trendy.

"There are doctors out there who know a lot more than our trainers," the veteran Washington Redskins receiver told FOXSports.com. "Guys who play on this level want to stay on this level, and they're going to seek the extra help. I just go and let whoever can fix me, fix me."

Moss was a patient of Anthony Galea, a Canadian physician who treated several elite athletes. Galea, who was not authorized to treat patients in the U.S., accepted a plea deal in July for attempting to smuggle human growth hormone and the unapproved drug Actovegin into the country. Not all athletes Galea treated received banned or restricted drugs, and Moss was not suspended by the NFL under the league's drug policy.

To continue reading click here.

Industry News

Global Health Voyager, Inc. Completes PlanetHospital Acquisition Transitioning GLHV to an international medical tourism company

IPMI Magazine — Global Health Voyager, Inc. (GLHV)   GLHV +20.00% is now positioned as a publicly-traded international medical tourism company with completion of the asset acquisition of PlanetHospital. Rudy Rupak, founder and CEO of PlanetHospital, will lead the PlanetHospital operations for GLHV. PlanetHospital has been a pioneer in medical tourism since 2002; PlanetHospital has served thousands of patients to become one of the largest medical travel facilitator in the United States.

The Company has been featured in more than 200 media outlets, including CNN.com, ABC, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal-Asia, Good Housekeeping and the Los Angeles Times. "Medical travel appeals to uninsured or underinsured Americans -- a number that reached 81 million people in 2010," said Ali Moussavi, GLHV president and CEO. "As the rapidly-growing practice of travelling across international borders to obtain affordable, quality healthcare, medical travel fills an urgent need.

To read more click here.

Industry News

Paper Examines "Medical Tourism, Access to Health Care, and Global Justice"

Editor's Note: One of Medical Travel Today's favorite contributors, I. Glenn Cohen, recently had a paper published in The Virginia Journal of International Law.

The article focuses on the concern that medical tourism reduces access to healthcare for the destination country’s poor and the suggestion that home country governments or international bodies have obligations to curb medical tourism or mitigate its negative effects when they occur.

Cohen was kind enough to provide a link to the paper that can be accessed at no cost. To read the paper, please click here.

Industry News

U.S. Doctor Frustrated with Spiraling Costs of Surgery Takes Patients to Mexico for Medical Care

PR-USA.net—Surgical patients in search of premium quality, affordable, safe medical care will travel with MedToGo International to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, beginning November 1, 2011, to undergo varied procedures.

Tempe, AZ, October 26, 2011 - Inviting new patients, MedToGo announces a $500 discount on aesthetic and orthopedic surgery packages, and a 25% discount for surgeries related to obesity, such as gastric bypass. A few examples of reduced prices for popular aesthetic procedures include:

Mommy Makeover (Tummy tuck, three areas of Liposuction & Breast Augmentation):  $7,300

Breast Lift and Augmentation: $4,300

Facial Rejuvenation (Facelift, Brow lift, Eyelids):  $5,200

Pre-Wedding (Breast Augmentation, Liposuction & Gluteus Augmentation) $6,500

MedToGo patient, Candace Smith, had this to say about her successful experience with aesthetic surgery performed in Mexico, “…when you meet Dr. Ceballos, you will immediately feel a sense of calmness and peace in his presence.” MedToGo has empowered hundreds of patients to gain access to quality medical care for up to 80% savings compared to procedures performed in the United States.

A medical travel company owned and operated by a family of physicians educated and trained in America, MedToGo International, based in Tempe, Ariz., coordinates every detail of a patient’s trip south of the border.  Personally sourcing top-tiered physicians and hospitals in Mexico and Costa Rica, doctors at MedToGo offer cost-effective, safe, time-sensitive alternatives.

Robert H. Page, M.D., of MedToGo will accompany patients on the trip in November to Puerto Vallarta, along with a patient coordinator. Currently the owner of a bilingual medical practice in Tempe, Ariz., Dr. Page works alongside his two American- educated and trained sons at MedToGo, Curtis Page, M.D., and Robert R. Page.

MedToGo’s mission to provide quality, safe alternatives to medical care for the underserved in America and Canada began more than a decade ago.  The organization’s Founder, Arizona native Dr. Robert H. Page, was awarded his medical degree from the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara in 1971. He’s since served as Chief of Staff at Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital from 1991 to 1993, and enjoys accolades and respect, expertly navigating the medical landscapes in both Mexico and the U.S.

For further information regarding MedToGo’s network of physicians and hospitals, plus patient testimonials, visit http://www.medtogo.com/.

Industry News

World's Largest Medical Tourism Network Now Offers up to 90% Savings on Prescriptions in the US



 PRLog — Mercury Healthcare International, Inc. is a globally integrated health delivery system®. The company provides the largest integrated health delivery system access in the world, offering health savings at over 800,000 domestic and international healthcare providers to employers, expatriates, insurers and individuals. MHI Certified Care Navigators™ assist clients to arrange care for routine, emergency and elective healthcare needs both in the US and more than 40 other countries. In addition to the 54,000 participating pharmacies throughout the US and mail order prescription savings, the network includes over 6,000 hospitals that have been pre-screened and subjected to detailed inspections, and over 750,000 doctors and over 65,000 ancillary professionals whose credentials have been verified and reviewed to US-managed care standards.  This means that our members can save money on treatment in the US and abroad, and get their prescription medications at incredible savings before they leave and after they return home.

Through a corps of health benefits agents, brokers and consultants, MHI offers more than 35,000 employers in the US with self-funded health benefit plans the opportunity for their plan members to access MHI's negotiated network rates on routine, urgent, emergent and elective procedures, and offers full health travel logistics coordination and case management in the US and abroad. The company also offers a voluntary enrollment program for individual and family access to the network under a membership program with over 2.3 million card-carrying individual consumer clients who enjoy MHI membership savings in addition to any insurance coverage they may currently have or who might be enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid programs, and to others without any insurance coverage.

Now, in addition to being able to elect domestic or international health travel as an option for scheduled, elective, high-cost medically necessary diagnostic and surgical procedures, MHI clients and members can access prescription discounts at most local chain and independent pharmacies throughout the US.  For members of self-funded health benefit plans and labor unions, typically, pharmacy co-pays are more than $25 and some medications may not be covered at all. Our new program will most likely save money on any prescription where the co-pay is more than $10.  Some of our members have saved up to 90% at Walgreens, CVS, Costco and Sam's Club.

In addition to the mail order savings available, MHI also offers a website where members of the public can access savings just like they access medical tourism packages. On this special webpage, they can look up their medications by dose and quantity, find participating pharmacies within a 25-mile radius and then know the price and the discount before they go to the pharmacy. The discounts work in addition to any prescription coverage they may currently have and can also save money on the Medicare Donut Hole. "In some cases, for medications like antibiotics, blood thinners, diabetes medicines and antidepressants, the savings are excellent and often save money on generic prescriptions except for the inexpensive $4 prescriptions already pre-discounted by the pharmacies," says Maria K Todd, MHA Ph.D., Founder and CEO of The Mercury Healthcare Companies.

MHI members get the prescription savings at more than 54,000 pharmacies as a free added bonus of membership.

“Offering a prescription savings benefit to our clients and 2.3 million card-carrying members seems like a no-brainer when you consider how many people live and work without prescription coverage, and how often medications go unfilled in favor of paying rent or heating bills or buying groceries,” said Todd. “We’re doing our part to improve health quality and medication compliance with access to affordable care. Employers who offer our programs save so much money on prescription costs alone that they tend to almost completely offset our network access fees for routine, urgent, emergent care and elective surgery. 

"Each month we've received testimonials about how people saved money with our free card that enabled them to cover some other important bill without being forced to choose filling a prescription their doctor prescribed," Todd continues. "One member reported a $2,100 monthly pharmacy bill was reduced to $910 from a pharmacy within walking distance of his apartment. Before using our card, he was driving to five different pharmacies all over town to find minimal savings on his monthly life-saving medications. With his monthly savings, he's buying a home for the first time in his life!"

In one hour last week, for one community in the state of Indiana, 29 prescriptions were purchased at local chain and independent pharmacies, and the average savings were 38.58%. This is replicated nationwide on a free card.

For self-funded benefit plans and unions, the prescription savings to the plans are remarkable. With our free pharmacy discount card, plan participants and their families are instructed to use the discount card first to determine what their out-of-pocket spend will be on their prescriptions.  In many cases, if the copayment is $10-25 with their insurance plan, the entire cost of the prescription would have been lower without involving their pharmacy benefit, and therefore no claims expense is incurred to their plan, thus no claim cost recorded on claims experience.

Industry News

Mercury Healthcare International, Inc. Adopts Cloud-based Electronic Health Record for Care Continuity

PRLog — EMRs and other information technology can improve communication and patient safety if fully implemented in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. For example, EMRs can help reduce medication errors, avoid the need to repeat diagnostic testing, and improve continuity of care across the healthcare system.

More than 800,000 participating healthcare providers in over 40 countries and throughout the US impaneled in the MHI globally integrated health delivery system® will have appropriate access to secure, complete clinical information that is HIPAA and HITECH compliant wherever they need it.  Last month, Practice Fusion debuted a prototype of its native iOS mobile application for the iPhone at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Practice Fusion currently has iPhone and Android applications in private beta testing. When the stable release comes out, the mobile solutions will provide MHI nurse case managers, Care Navigators™ and medical advisers a lightweight and secure way to stay connected to our global network of providers and other medical advisers on the go.

MHI's network includes over 6,000 pre-screened and inspected hospitals, more than 4,300 of which are in the US, along with over 750,000 vetted physicians, surgery centers, dialysis centers, physical therapy and rehab centers, labs, imaging and hearing centers, substance abuse and mental health facilities, and more than 65,000 ancillary facilities. Records can be moved inbound and outbound enabling us to move more patients' health information faster between treating providers and our medical management teams.

MHI operates several offices worldwide where case managers, regional medical directors, specialty medical advisors and certified Care Navigators™ work to operate a health travel and medical tourism logistics hub, conduct patient safety reviews and use medical records to conduct extended outcomes measurements for health travel and medical tourism patients seeking care in a location other than their home town.  

MHI's core business function is to provide employees of self-funded / self-insured companies and individual consumer members the opportunity to access clinically coordinated health and wellness services. High-quality healthcare providers who are impaneled in its seamless, globally integrated health delivery system® have been pre-screened, reviewed and inspected before they are permitted to provide services in the US and abroad at negotiated prices to MHI clients.

Mercury Healthcare International provides cost containment, disease management, global case management, foreign medical records review and claims audits, and coordinates routine, urgent, emergent, high-cost elective surgical care, executive physicals and emergency medical assistance and evacuation/repatriation for its self-funded employer clients with domestic, expatriate and traveling employees.  The company also offers health travel and medical tourism facilitation to individual consumers for services not covered by their health insurance such as experimental, investigational and cosmetic services, or medically necessary services not covered by a health plan that have been deemed pre-existing and excluded from coverage. 

MHI is an industry leader in medical tourism continuity of care best practices. The company operates the only known global medical implant registry to record and track implants of all types and brands which are placed in medical tourism patients. MHI uses innovative and well-developed outcomes measurement tools originally developed by Rand Corporation to monitor, measure and report functional, clinical and patient satisfaction outcomes over a 36-month event horizon and to document continuity of care.  

We've not identified any other medical tourism company that has even begun to apply managed care best practices and principles of patient-centered care to their operational work flows. Most likely this is because it is extremely rare that medical tourism firms in the US and Canada are operated by individuals with any medical or insurance industry background or travel experience. Most operate as healthcare marketing companies that simply promote hospitals and providers who pay them commissions for patient referrals. MHI's strong acumen in the areas of managed care, case management, predictive modeling, self-funded employee health and wellness benefits, travel logistics and sophisticated infrastructure enable it to offer domestic and international health travel options for employer groups of any size.

"The powerful and comprehensive Practice Fusion EMR system will make our globally integrated patient-centered care operations flow more efficiently and lower the cost to provide care and case management services,” says Maria K. Todd, MHA PhD, CEO and Founder of the Mercury Healthcare Companies. "We love the fact that we can also share the full Practice Fusion EMR solution with our healthcare providers who have not yet implemented an EMR so they can get their own system absolutely free of charge. It made me grin ear-to-ear to learn that our system is more robust than the one my own primary care concierge physician just implemented costing several thousands of dollars. Ryan Howard and his Practice Fusion team are to be commended for their innovative leadership in health information technology."

Providers who wish to learn more about how they can obtain Practice Fusion's EMR system absolutely free through MHI should visit our website's provider relations section (http://mercury-healthcare.com/prov-rel/freebies/100-free ...) for additional details and a no-obligation referral.

Industry News

IMTJ Coverage of the MTA Activities

Editor's Note: Two recent items from the IMTJ have been generating a lot of conversation and concern within the industry. We're grateful to Keith Pollard, Managing Director of Intuition Communications and publisher of the IMTJ, for allowing us to provide links to the articles here:

Medical Tourism Association re-directs Bumrungrad visitors and patients

MTA plans three years ahead for two hour lunch meeting..... the “Employer Medical Tourism Connection 2014”

Industry News

Patients Beyond Borders® Dubai Healthcare City Edition Author to Be Featured Panelist at Arab Health 2012

PRWEB— Josef Woodman, CEO of Patients Beyond Borders and author of the Patients Beyond Borders Dubai Healthcare City Edition, has been selected as a featured panelist at the 37th Annual Arab Health Exhibition and Congress in Dubai, January 23 – 26, 2012. The event, which attracts more than 71,000 healthcare professionals from 60 countries, is the largest gathering of healthcare industry leaders and influencers in the Middle East.

Woodman will participate with a panel of experts at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, to discuss “Globalization in Healthcare — An Opportunity or Threat for Healthcare Providers in the Arab World?” The session, moderated by Dr. Sanjiv Malik, CEO of DM Healthcare in Dubai, also includes Mack Banner, CEO, Bumrungrad International Hospital, Bangkok; Cathy Easter, CEO, Methodist International Hospital, Houston, Texas; and Dr. Ayesha Mohammed Abdullah, Managing Director of Sciences Cluster: Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC), Dubiotech, and Enpark.

Produced by Healthy Travel Media in partnership with DHCC, Patients Beyond Borders: Dubai Healthcare City Edition is the world’s first publication to feature medical tourism in the Middle East. The 156-page guidebook, to be published in English and Arabic for international distribution in January 2012 — the Arabic version will be available in April 2012 — offers an in-depth overview of Joint Commission International (JCI)–accredited hospitals, as well as medical centers and clinics based in DHCC and accredited by the Center for Healthcare Planning and Quality, accommodations and essential medical travel information for Dubai. DHCC, located in the heart of Dubai and home to internationally renowned healthcare providers offering high-quality care, is poised to become a leading medical travel destination for patients in the region and beyond.

“We believe that the 2012 Arab Health Exhibition and Congress in Dubai will be the perfect venue to formally launch Patients Beyond Borders: Dubai Healthcare City Edition,” said Dr. Abdullah. “In line with our vision to attract medical tourism to Dubai, we are confident the world’s leading consumer reference guide for medical tourism will bring even greater awareness of DHCC as a world-class medical center to healthcare consumers throughout the region and the world.”

Industry News

World's Largest Medical Tourism Network Names Michael N. Tarabay as V.P. of Business Development


Michael Tarabay

PRLog — Michael comes to Mercury from a long career in both U.S. and international hospital administration and a solid career in health benefits consulting with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in Pittsburgh, Penn., where he served as Senior Account Manager for over 11 years. 

In 2008 Tarabay was the CEO of Hospital CIMA Santa Engracia in Monterrey, Mexico, where he led the staff to achieved Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation under the 2008 patient safety standards, and demonstrated compliance with 99.9% of the standards, the highest percentage completion in all of Latin America. He served as Chief Operating Officer, Assistant Administrator and Director of Managed Care at LifeCare Hospital of Pittsburgh prior to his appointment as CEO at CIMA.

While at HighMark Blue Cross Blue Shield, he led his sales team to win producer contests five years in a row, qualified for bonuses up to 480% of base salary and was the #1 sales employee that won not only health but life insurance awards every year with Blue Cross Blue Shield. Prior to HighMark, he served as President of Penn Western Agency, a wholly owned subsidiary of Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania, where he sold over $14.5 million  of annualized premiums in five years, a present day value of just over $81 million without adjusting for premium hikes that have occurred since then.

Michael will oversee Mercury Healthcare International's growing self-funded employer business development team and will be an integral part of the organization as it expands its footprint in the global workforce health benefits and wellness programs with a wide selection of health travel benefit options and our GlobalFlex HRA™ program. 

Mercury solves the problem of managing costly benefit silos by consolidating one pre-screened and inspected global network of more than 800,000 providers including hospitals, physicians, dentists and full ancillary provider availability across the entire US and more than 40 countries abroad. It takes the traditional PPO network access to a previously unseen level by incorporating all the other clinical management pieces into its trademarked globally integrated health delivery system® that coordinates care to manage and avoid disease progression while reducing the administrative redundancy costs of a pastiche of quilted PPO networks to deliver care to a multi-state or multi-national workforce. 

"Michael brings an unmatched blend of expertise in both healthcare benefits management and firsthand knowledge of medical travel, international hospital quality management and medical tourism infrastructure to the training and development of newly appointed brokers, agents and benefits consultants affiliated with MHI," says Maria K. Todd, MHA PhD, CEO and Founder of MHI. "I am thrilled he has finally decided to join us. We've been pursuing him for more than three years."

Michael has a B.A. in Personnel Administration, Sales and Marketing from the University of Richmond, and served in the U.S. Army.  He served in Turkey during his tour of duty where he worked in health administration. Michael is completely fluent in English and Spanish and speaks "a bit of Lebanese, Arabic and Turkish."

Industry News

Say quoi?: France Tops Med Travel Destinations, Survey Says

travekmarketreport.com — France tops a list of 20 destinations with the most potential for medical travel, according to a new report by the research arm of The Economist magazine.

The report’s Medical Travel Index contains surprises in its ranking of destinations with the greatest potential for medical travel. The major surprise is that France, a country that does not heavily promote medical tourism, comes out ahead of destinations that do.

India, Singapore ranked low
India and Singapore, for example, are ranked 15th and 16th, respectively. Yet both countries actively market medical travel.

To continue reading click here

Industry News

Medical Tourism Documentary Follows PlanetHospital Patient Through International Surgery Process – Airing Nationally on Current TV

WHO: Rudy Rupak, president, PlanetHospital

WHAT: “Under the Knife,” a Vanguard Documentary, produced by Douglas Busby and Doug Dearth

A 60-minute documentary that takes a comprehensive look into the process of medical travel, including a PlanetHospital patient’s compelling trip from California to Mexico to receive a surgery she could not afford in the United States.

With over 81 million under and uninsured Americans, medical travel is one of the only ways for these individuals to receive potentially life-saving treatments.

WHERE: Current TV: DirectTV - Channel 358, Comcast – Channel 107, Time Warner NY – 103, LA – 142, Dish – Channel 196, Verizon Fios – 192, AT&T U-Verse – Channel 189

WHEN: Monday, Nov. 14, 2011 at 9 p.m. EST

Upcoming Events

2012 Global Healthcare and Medical Tourism Conference: ‘Global Connected Care & 3rd MediTour Expo’ Slated for May 6-8, 2012

MediTour Expo announced its 2012 Global Healthcare and Medical Tourism Conference: “Global Connected Care & 3rd MediTour Expo,” will be held May 6-8, 2012, at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

This two-day conference will feature specialized topics on the globalization of healthcare. Leading technology and healthcare professionals will come together to present and discuss new global healthcare strategies, the latest trends in telemedicine and technology applications as well as insurance and quality issues. The conference will showcase presentations by some of global healthcare’s most influential leaders including Dr. Jay Sanders, M.D., FACP, FACAAI, president and CEO of the Global Telemedicine Group, adjunct professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and founding board member and president emeritus of the American Telemedicine Association.  Expecting to draw delegates from all around the world, this event is a must for those looking to increase contacts in the international healthcare industry.

The conference will also offer exhibit halls, discussion panels and workshops and numerous networking opportunities throughout.

According to Ian Jacobs, CEO of MediTour Expo and Arlen Meyers, M.D., MBA, president of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, this conference will provide education, business opportunities and a networking forum for the global healthcare and medical tourism Industry while identifying and removing barriers to adoption and diffusion. 

Below are some of the event’s highlights:

  • Global Physician Referral Networks and Patient Care — How to Build a Global Practice 
  • Self-Funded Insurance Groups -- Providing Healthcare Travel Alternatives
  • M-health, Telemedicine and Electronic Healthcare Information Platforms
  • Business Processes and Advanced Global Healthcare Marketing Strategies  
  • Integrating Global Healthcare Technologies with Medical Travel   
  • Legal Issues in Global Care
  • Workshops in Global Practice Management, Insurance Reimbursement & Payment, Business Processes, and Legal & Regulatory issues in Global Care
  • Private meeting rooms for business meetings

For information and registration, visit http://meditourexpo.net. For sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities, email: Joanne@meditourexpo.net.

EMTC 2012 Slated for April 25-27, 2012

The key message of next year's EMTC in Berlin focuses on the huge unfulfilled potential for health tourism and medical travel in Europe. The European Medical Travel Conference, now in its fifth year, is the internationally recognized event and platform for the European medical travel market - from Munich in 2008, the event has visited Budapest, Venice and lastly Barcelona in 2011. The EMTC network has facilitated discussion on challenging topics such as:

  • The EU Directive on Cross Border Healthcare and its impact for the EU states.
  • The development of inbound and outbound European medical travel, and intra-Europe medical travel.
  • Exploiting the synergies within European healthcare systems for cost saving, competitive pricing and delivery of high-end solutions.
  • The integration and restructuring of healthcare services in a cross-border scenario.

The European Union is being driven by the current financial crisis and pressures; we are experiencing a level of collaboration, solutions and outcomes which we have never seen before. In healthcare, things are also moving quickly. Changing demographics and reduced public expenditure budgets are putting pressure on healthcare provision and opening up new opportunities for cross border cooperation. Attend EMTC 2012 and learn how these changes will affect your organization, your business or your healthcare system.

Healthcare professionals and healthcare providers within Europe can shape the future of cross border healthcare and medical travel from a truly European rather than a national perspective. The EU may come up with the first health systems merger in history.

Come to EMTC 2012 in Berlin...the 2012 medical travel event which you don't want to miss. Learn from the past, watch the present, and create the future… Attend as a delegate and learn from others, come as a speaker or panel member and tell others about your plans and ambitions, and above all work with others to shape and create the future of European healthcare.

For more information, visit the EMTC 2012 website or email chairman@emtc2012.com / info@emtc2012.com.

Hotels Bridging Healthcare Conference Announced

Registration is now open for June 2012 Hotels Bridging Healthcare conference

Registration is now open for Hotels Bridging Healthcare (H2H), a conference on hotel, wellness and medical tourism entrepreneurship designed to provide an overview of medical tourism today and the future and concept of H2H with wellness spas.

Organized by co-chairs Ali Poorani and Frederick DeMicco of the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management at the University of Delaware, the conference will focus on the development, operation and branding of medical tourism services developed between hotels, resorts and medical facilities.

The conference will be held Saturday, June 16, through Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz Wellbeing and Medical Health Center in Switzerland. Participants can register online using the conference website. 

Other agenda items include panel presentations and discussions on the operational model of Bad Ragaz, the branding of cities and towns for medical tourism, financial and investment issues, potential infrastructure and legal issues and the impact on doctor/patient communication.

Max Koppel, M.D., clinical associate professor at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, has collaborated with Poorani and DeMicco and will preside as the H2H conference medical advisor.

According to Koppel, “the conference will advance the international availability of the highest quality care with fewer bureaucratic barriers. The conference will also focus on patient dignity, safety and expanded freedom of choice through the hospitality concept,” said Koppel.

The conference is sponsored by Hospitality Associates for Research and Training (HART); the University of Delaware; the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics; the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management; and the College of Health Sciences.

Situations Wanted

Win a free copy of Patients Beyond Borders, Second Edition

In honor of our fifth year of publishing, Medical Travel Today will be giving away copies of Patients Beyond Borders, Second Edition, the best-selling consumer reference guide to international medical travel, with more than 100,000 copies in print, to all contributors and interviewees throughout the year. In addition, we'll be giving a copy to one lucky subscriber with each issue we publish. To earn your chance to win, email our editor with "book drawing" in the subject line.

Congrats to this
issue's winner:

Trish Freeman, Freeman Insurance Services

News in Review

Germany to spearhead medical tourism in the GCC

Ttnworldwide.com—…The road show involved a series of workshops held by institutional, medical and tourism representatives, as well as specialized doctors coming from Germany. 

Arroyo seeks medical treatment abroad

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been allowed by the House leadership to seek medical treatment abroad for her "unique" condition after the Justice Department summoned her to attend an investigation on allegations of 2004 and 2007 election fraud.


Editor’s Note: The information in Medical Travel Today is believed to be accurate, but in some instances, may represent opinion or judgment.  The newsletter’s providers do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any of the information and shall not be liable for any loss or damage caused – directly or indirectly – by or from the information.  All information should be considered a supplement to – and not a substitute for – the care provided by a licensed healthcare provider or other appropriate expert.  The appearance of advertising in this newsletter should in no way be interpreted as a product or service endorsement by the newsletter’s providers.